Photo by Chris Casella

Class of 2016: The Worn Flints

I’m sitting in a low-key coffee shop across from three guys who performed to over 10,000 people in the past week. Sprawled out on the couch is The Worn Flints’ frontman Kenny Stiegele, who is eating a sandwich—two sandwiches, actually.

“The pickle is just to cleanse my palate between sandwiches,” he says.

Two years after trying to burn down the Off Ramp Stage at ComFest, and mere days away from being hand-picked to support uber-stars Alabama Shakes, Stiegele, bassist Steve Trabulsi, and drummer Jacob Smith are all smiles; full of ham, cheese, and the Midwestern charm that runs through their psychedelic-embroidered blues rock.

Last summer the band released their second EP, Second Sun, and when they were hand-picked by roots-rock giant Alabama Shakes for a sold-out LC gig, they put on enough of a show to become the band’s go-to fill-in for a handful of Florida dates.

“We found out Tuesday and we left Thursday morning,” Smith said. “I could have lost my job.”

“But you can’t put a price on a trip like that,” Trabulsi added.

Eighteen hours later, they’d be warming up for an audience of thousands and sharing space with The Shakes themselves; frontwoman Brittany Howard matching their Midwestern charm with Southern hospitality.

“Our green room was the entire fourth floor of this 100-year-old theater with balconies that overlooked the Tampa skyline and the venue,” Smith said. “Brittany was up there just having cigarettes and talking.”

“We were in our own space, just kickin’ it, and every now and again we would just cross conversations. It was fun, she was real cool,” Stiegele said.

Of course, with a show this big, and in accordance with Murphy’s Law, there was a moment of last-minute panic.

“We had an idea of a setlist beforehand. We were using two guitars—Kenny hadn’t used one of these guitars—and he was using a capo, and it just didn’t fit on this guitar,” Trabulsi said.

The group didn’t realize the problem until the hammer was ready to drop, five seconds before they were expected to go on.

“We completely snapped a new setlist on the spot,” Smith said, snapping his fingers.

The lights went off, a crowd of thousands anxiously awaiting the music in the pit below. This wasn’t what they had rehearsed, but every good musician knows how to improvise.

“I think, as far as our performance, that was probably our best show. It was just this fight-or-flight moment with that happening right beforehand,” Trabulsi said.

After playing two shows with Alabama Shakes, The Flints were recruited to play the main stage at SunFest in West Palm Beach.

“I think the backstage at SunFest was the dopest … our backdrop was, like, the ocean and yachts. It was insane,” Stiegele said. “And I didn’t even notice it at the time, but that big screen in the back—that was the first time we were ever on a mega-screen.”

In addition to their first performance on the Jumbotron, The Flints had some other firsts at SunFest.

“It was the first time we shouted our city in another place and one small corner of the crowd went apeshit,” Smith said. “You start to realize the more places you go that a lot of people are from Ohio.”

“We are a Columbus band,” Stiegele said. “This is the city that made us. We’ll always rep Columbus.”

With festival performances at Bunbury, PromoWest Fest, and a headlining slot at ComFest over the summer—not to mention three upcoming singles—they’re intent on keeping the momentum going, hopefully with other opportunities outside of 270.

“It’s nice to be able to share what Ohio has to offer with the rest of the world.” –  Jack Lynch

To catch The Worn Flints’ next performance in Columbus, head over to ComFest on Friday, June 24 for their free headlining set on the Bozo stage.